Poem in running-cursive script

Artist: Mi Wanzhong (1570-1628)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, early 17th century
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 249.7 x 56.5 cm (98 5/16 x 22 1/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — funds provided by the B.Y. Lam Foundation Fund
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), running-cursive script, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

Born and raised in Beijing, imperial capital of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Mi Wanzhong served in a number of low and mid-level government positions both at court and in the provinces. The particular blend of running and cursive scripts seen in this scroll is typical of the prevailing style of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Somewhat raw and unpolished, Mi Wanzhong's calligraphy is much more forceful than that of Dong Qichang, the contemporary with whom he is most often compared.  Mi was also less concerned than Dong with the niceties and details of brushwork, and more interested in achieving a bold, robust overall effect. His poem describes the leisurely retirement enjoyed by a friend:

Lazily, he's let the weeds and creepers
grow along the path to his gate,

And does not allow any wheels or hooves
to damage the ancient moss.

Wherefore, then, are those hidden birds
so busily fluttering about?

Across the woods they call out at times
that a drinking friend has come.

(translation by Stephen D. Allee)

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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